Grandpa’s guilty secret


I still remember the day that Grandpa broke my heart, and confessed what he’d done. He even laughed when he said it, not anticipating the unbroken torrent of wailing and tears that would spontaneously erupt from his little granddaughter. His ONLY granddaughter, I might add. What on earth could he have said to break a little girl’s heart so completely? What heinous deed could he have confessed?

My Grandpa shot Mighty Mouse.

There it is. It’s out. It can’t hurt him now, because he’s been dead nearly 30 years. But I will never forget the day he told me that. And as much as I loved him, I don’t think I ever completely forgave him.

There was a hole in the kitchen ceiling, just over the chair at the end of the kitchen table, which was covered with strapping tape for my entire life. Remember strapping tape? It was cellophane tape with nylon threads embedded that made it nearly impossible to break. Until the day Grandma moved out of that house—when I was in my late 20s—if I sat in “my” spot at the table and looked up, I saw that hole with the tape over it. I don’t know why they never replaced that tile.

I had asked Grandpa why there was a hole in the ceiling, and he told me simply that he had shot a mouse. I thought about it for a minute, and asked how he shot a mouse way up there. That’s when he told me the mouse was Mighty Mouse. Bawling my heart out, someone came to see what was wrong, and all I could wail was, “My Grandpa shot Mighty Mouse!” Later, Grandma told me the real story.

They had been having trouble with mice, and Grandpa hunted (a key theme) until he discovered mice nesting in the attic. While he was up there, he saw the little critter, but couldn’t manage to catch him or whack him with anything, so he came back down, and got his gun. He was from Missouri, and typically stubborn as a mule, and he was determined to get that mouse. Next thing Grandma knew, there was a loud BANG! Debris rained down from the ceiling in the corner of the kitchen. When Grandpa came down, she “let him have it with both barrels” of her own! What if one of the kids had been standing there? What if SHE had been standing there? She was furious!

And decades later, the hole remained.

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